By Shelby R. Farrell


BELVIDERE – The Summerfield Zoo faced the darkest night in its history when a storm swept through the Belvidere zoo destroying property and killing two animals on April 9.

“In retrospect, it’s still so surreal,” co-owner, Tammy Anderson, said. “Fences were down. Animals were wondering all over, and stuff was everywhere. It was such a dark night. It was so much darker than it had ever been.”

Since that night, a community of animal lovers has surrounded the zoo to brighten things up. Anderson said hundreds of people helped fix fences, comb the fields for storm debris, and rebuild structures in the days following the storm. More than $60,000 has been donated to the zoo.

“The donations are what has built us back up,” Anderson said. “Our fences weren’t insured. The shelters weren’t insured very much.”

While the fences have been fixed and the three destroyed buildings replaced, Anderson said the Summerfield Zoo still needs more.

“We still have a lot left to do here,” she said. “Everything looks 20 years older than it did before the storm.”

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Luckily, the community of animal lovers hasn’t forgotten the zoo in Belvidere, and on July 31, one mother and daughter pair hosted their first Zooapalooza at the Take 20 bar in Cherry Valley.

Casey Moore, who works at the Take 20 on Saturdays, said she and her daughter have visited the Summerfield Zoo a lot, so trying to raise money to help fix one of their favorite places made sense.

“We both have a huge heart for animals,” Moore said. “My daughter is 17, and she called me and asked if we could do something for the zoo, so we decided to put on a benefit.”

She said they didn’t have a set fundraising goal, but everything they raised would go to the zoo. Money was raised through an entry fee, a raffle and an auction including concert tickets. There were also seven live bands and a meet and greet with some Summerfield Zoo animals before the live music began.

“We raised $761,” Moore said. “They said that it’s enough to rebuild their water fowl enclosure, which is awesome.”

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